Why is it that many (most?) women buy every book in the bookstore about pregnancy, but don't quite get around to reading the chapter on baby care at the end? I, like many new mothers I know never actually did any reading about how to take care of a baby. I mean, I've never perused a user manual for any product I have ever bought, so why would I start now?
In retrospect, a little reading wouldn't have gone astray. There is the odd bit of baby maintenance it might be better to know about beforehand. Like wrapping. And how to use a breast pump. And which way the tabs go on disposable nappies.
Like any fresh and shiny new mother, I learnt on the job. Along the way I developed a few life lessons and skills. Hopefully some of these will carry with me for the next baby.
Here are some of the more poignant the lessons I learnt in my first year of motherhood. Some of these perhaps should have been obvious, but I'll be honest and say they weren't. Here goes:
1. That babies do not necessarily sleep when they are tired.
Why didn't anybody tell me this one before I had a baby? And why is it so? Oh the days and weeks and months I wrapped my head around this fact, spending night after night with toothpicks in my own eyes, working out a way of convincing my newborn that you are crying and grumpy because you are tired and if you just close your eyes and keep them closed you (and I!) will feel a lot lot better!
2. That sleep in general is a luxury item.
Sleep before a baby is an inconvenience, at best something to break up the doldrum of everyday working life. After baby? The word 'sleep' becomes the most beautiful word in the English language. An unattainable luxury more coveted than the complete authentic Louis Vuitton luggage range. Sleeep glorious sleeeep.
3. That nappies do not necessarily safeguard against poo.
One word: Blowout.
Mothers-to-be? Be warned.
4. That even though they're socks are teeny-tiny, your washing load will treble.
Even if you use disposable nappies. Even if you only change their clothing when it's really dirty. Even if its Summer and they are living in next to nothing. I don't know why it is, but it is. Buy 5kg tubs of Napisan. Trust me on this one.
5. That you will learn selflessness.
Myer sends you a loyalty giftcard and instead of buying new underwear to replace your fraying Bonds, you buy new pajamas for your babe. Because she likes to sleep in fresh jammies.
And even though you used to meet friends for lunch around midday, that's when your baby likes to sleep so you don't leave the house at that time. For an entire year.
6. That you will form judgements.
You used to think crying babies in shopping centres were nothing but an annoyance. Now, you can't help but wonder why that baby is not tucked up in bed - it's 8pm!
7. That shoes are wasted on babies.
You will be given shoes. You will buy shoes. You won't be able to stop yourself. But shoes on a baby under 12 months are kind of pointless. If they do not fall off immediately, they are not comfortable and they can't walk (or crawl) in them. They will be too big for the first 6 months after they are given to you, then once they finally fit they will suddenly be too small. Within about 2 weeks. Most of the time they will just sit prettily on the shelf unworn.
8. That every single moment is a moment to be captured.
You buy a Digi SLR and fill a 300 page album the first week after the baby is born. You keep up the momentum throughout most of the entire year, ordering doubles for every family member and buying more picture frames than you have walls to hang them onto! Yep, you can never have too many photos of baby's first pea-puree. This angle! That angle! What about from over there?!
9. That your priorities will change somewhat.
It's Boxing Day, and the sales are on. Last year (before you were a mother) you queued outside the changeroom at Country Road for an hour to try on those marked-down Summer shorts and floaty tops. This year, you adorn last year's pants and head straight for Big W -- you've heard nappies are down to $33 and you can save $3 a box!
10. That you will discover a love greater than you ever knew existed.
People do tell you this one, but to me it always seemed a little patronising. Like people that didn't have children couldn't know what love was! I mean, I had a beloved Labrador whose pictures were plastered on my computer screensaver. I knew love! But I didn't. Not until I had Fern. And then suddenly I understood all too clearly.
I could continue forever.
What'd I miss?? I'd love to know what YOU have learnt on this great adventure of motherhood. Please share!